A stoppage-time equalizer from substitute Christian Benteke earned Liverpool a 1-1 draw at home to Chelsea in the English Premier League on Wednesday.
Eden Hazard put Chelsea ahead with a superb solo goal in the 32nd minute, taking possession about 30 meters out and gliding past three Liverpool players before sending a shot into the bottom corner of the net.
Liverpool, which faces Sevilla in the Europa League final next week, rallied in the second half of manager Juergen Klopp’s 50th match in charge and Hazard’s Belgium teammate Benteke headed the equalizer from close range in the second minute of injury time.
Chelsea, which won the Premier League last season, cannot finish this campaign any higher than its current ninth place.
Liverpool is eighth and could still move up the standings after Sunday’s final round of matches.
Chelsea was missing striker Diego Costa (injured), captain John Terry (suspended) and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (ill) for the game at Anfield. But crucially, it had one player in Hazard who was clearly fired up for a match of no significance.
Chelseas weathered the early pressure with Baba Rahman blocking Phillippe Coutinho’s shot, goalkeeper Asmir Begovic saving from Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino firing into the side-netting after a heavy touch took him wide from Daniel Sturridge’s excellent release pass.
Hazard gave Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet one warning with a low shot that was parried before Kolo Toure cleared the danger, but there was no second chance for the Belgium goalkeeper from his international teammate in the 32nd minute.
Hazard skipped past Lallana, Firmino and Dejan Lovren – whose attempts at tackling had Europa League final written all over them – to bend a delicate shot inside the far post.
Begovic’s one task in the second half was to stick out a hand to brilliantly deny Sturridge in a one-on-one.
Klopp refused to give up on the result and kept most of his big names – including Sturridge – on for the full 90 minutes in the knowledge that few will play at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.
The last throw of the dice saw him replace center-back Toure with Sheyi Ojo and the young winger almost volleyed in the equalizer with his first touch – only to then cross for Benteke to nod home the equalizer.